Brasserie Stars At New Hotel

TABLE TALK

Monaco Imports California Chef For Its Eco-friendly, Casual Restaurant

August 12, 2009|By ELIZABETH LARGE

Once, hotel dining was likely to be a very formal affair. No longer. Look what happened to Hampton's in Harbor Court and Pisces in the Hyatt. Both gone, while their more casual counterparts remain.

It's not surprising, then, that the restaurant of the new Hotel Monaco Baltimore is a brasserie, the B&O American Brasserie (2 N. Charles St., 443-692-6172, BandORestaurant.com), with an exhibition kitchen, counter seating and a brick oven for flatbreads and pizzas.

The restaurant has a commitment to eco-responsibility. Its food is all-natural, sustainable and often organic, and the products used are environmentally friendly. The kitchen recycles and has its own water purification system to eliminate the need for bottled water.

FOR THE RECORD - In the Table Talk column Wednesday, the name of the magazine that featured Woodberry Kitchen as one of the 10 best new restaurants in America was incorrect. The magazine was Bon Appetit. The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

B&O's executive chef is E. Michael Reidt. Food & Wine magazine named him one of America's "Best New Chefs" in 2001. Reidt told me he favors "the peasant style of the world's cuisines," which is reflected in menu items like seafood pot pie, pizza, pot roast and buttermilk-battered chicken.

Still, he's no stranger to current trends, and can whip up Chesapeake Rockfish with Smoked Shrimp-Pea Risotto and Arugula Pesto or Steak Tartar and Carpaccio with Pickled Carrots and Dressed Mizuna Greens.

Reidt, who had his own fine-dining restaurant in Santa Barbara, Calif., called Baltimore "the best-kept secret on the East Coast" as far as restaurants are concerned, with his current favorites being Woodberry Kitchen, Salt Tavern and the Wine Market.

The designers of the 4,500-square-foot restaurant, which is in the former B&O Railroad headquarters, made use of its Beaux Arts architecture in the renovations, and details from old B&O dining cars are incorporated into the furnishings. It has a street-front bar and seats 146, including 76 on the mezzanine.

The restaurant serves food daily from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight with happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

One step forward, two steps back: : It seems as if for every restaurant opening these days, there are two closings.

It may not be permanent, but Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden, known for its fine food and social consciousness, has abruptly closed for the month of August. Baltimore will have lost something valuable if it doesn't reopen.

"We have decided to take the remainder of the month to reorganize the business into a leaner and stronger one," said co-owner Bridget Sampson, "and will be in touch about a reopening date; we are hoping for September."

Plates, Dogwood's nonprofit culinary training program, cafe and catering, will continue to operate at the Woman's Industrial Exchange.

Maple Lawn changes: : Last weekend oZ. Chophouse in Maple Lawn closed. Jordan Naftal, owner of Jordan's Steakhouse in Ellicott City, will be reopening it with Carlos Venegas of Ranazul, a tapas restaurant in Maple Lawn, perhaps as soon as November.

"We've already revamped the menu at Jordan's," Naftal said. "We've expanded the prix fixe and small plates."

The new restaurant will have the same logo and menu as the Ellicott City steakhouse when it reopens after renovations, but it will be called Carlos and Jordan's Steakhouse.

I asked Naftal why he thought another steakhouse would success where oZ. failed, and he said he wasn't sure why the chophouse closed, but "it's difficult to be the first on the block."

After a couple of years, the Maple Lawn development is further along, he pointed out. The first restaurant in the complex, Trapeze, closed as well and has become a Looney's Pub.

Naftal also told me that Jordan's in Ellicott City abandoned its original concept of offering both prime and choice steaks except for the petit filet, because everyone orders prime. Tired of paying top dollar for enormous cuts of prime beef? Jordan's now offers half-sizes of steak as one of its small plates.

"I don't eat 16 ounces of New York strip," Naftal said, "and I don't encourage anyone else to. But I know some people like it."

Woodberry honors: : Food & Wine magazine has named Spike Gjerde's Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden/Woodberry one of the top 10 best new restaurants in America.

Woodberry, the ecologically responsible farm-to-table restaurant that's been a hit since it opened, isn't exactly new - it's a couple of years old - but it's certainly deserving of the honor.

The Deal of the Week

Where: Sascha's 527, 527 N. Charles St., Mount Vernon

The Deal: $18 food and drink combos:

Mondays, steak and martini

Tuesdays, crab cakes and margarita

Wednesdays, seafood salad and sangria

Thursday, lobster roll and beer

When: The month of August

Call: 410-539-8880

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